Chiclayo the Friendship Capital
If you haven’t heard of the 4th largest Peruvian city, then perhaps you have heard its nickname, “The Friendship Capital”. Why the bizarre nickname? Chiclayo, simply enough, is known as the friendliest city in the nation. It’s a modern metropolis, but its attractiveness to the backpacker is probably the nearby ruins and museums.
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The city center is pleasant, and the streets are conveniently small. There are dozens of hostels to choose from, and Peruvian cuisine is as distinct here as everywhere else in the country. You’ll want to mark down “try the duck” on your list of things to do here.
So, why are you in Chiclayo? You’re in Chiclayo because you’re interested in learning about some of the oldest civilizations in the region. After stuffing yourself with a plate of pato con arroz, you should jump a north-bound combi minibus, asking the driver to let you off in Lambayeque, which is part of the Chiclayo metropolitan area. There’s only one reason you’ll get off in Lambayeque.
The district’s Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum will cost 10 sols to enter. Inside, you’ll find all the artifacts brought from the ruins of Sipan, which themselves are located south of the city. Yeah, you could go check out those Moche ruins as well, but really, the museum houses the rich stuff. The artifacts come from the royal Moche dignitaries’ tombs at Sipan, and will dazzle your eyes. Just make sure not to arrive on a Sunday or Monday!
Continue north to the eroded pyramids of Tucume. They look like giant scraped blocks of cheese. The locals nickname the place purgatory, and perhaps your interpretation of the site will speak to you likewise.
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There are 26 earthen mounds and pyramids scattered around a main hill. Strolling through these areas is like walking on a different planet. You can get a good view of the entire landscape from the walkway leading up to the hill’s lookout.
There aren’t any backpacker hostels in town, so perhaps you’ll prefer visiting Tucume as a day excursion from your accommodation in Chiclayo. If you have the time, you can add into that day a visit to the Wari culture ruins of Cerro Patapo, which were discovered in 2008! They’re just a bit further north. You’ll warrant a night out on the town once you’re back in Chiclayo for the evening.
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When leaving, you’ll be happy to know that there are two bus terminals where all companies are located (unlike Lima’s bus companies all over town). One is to the north, and the other is in the south.